~ Experiences, Projects & Jottings of Painter Jan Clizer, Specialist Painter of Scottish & Celtic Music Subject Matter ~

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Perthshire Amber & More - Jottings on the Oct/Nov 2010 Trip

   Have been meaning to transcribe the pages of Moleskine neolithic chicken-scratch laid down on my latest sojourn in Scotland into something readable for a later date, so why not here - good things are meant to be shared, eh?

26th Oct - Fly out - Jess & I are chatting so intently we miss the airport turnoff.....typical....luggage scanning guy requests a concert with my 'piano'....in a fiddle case??...hmm, maybe it was just early in the morning!  The checked baggage goes FREEEE....the overseas flight:  2 seats to self - heaven in flight....Robin Hood, good food, skimpy snacks....just barely caught them accidentally routing me to VENICE!!  Sounds good, would love to go, but not THIS trip!
Wooden Shoes, Amsterdam

27th - Found museum in Schiphol....there's been renovation at the airport, & things are a bit confusing after a long flight.  Featured paintings are of cows in the 15th & 16th centuries this time...lovely, inspiring, freeing, as I stand admiring works by people who didn't have so many 'rules' to follow in their art.  An incredible barnyard scene with a gigantic rooster....the detail is unbelievable.  All the funny people, going so many places in this travel hub of northern Europe.  So many languages!  A new feature of the airport this time:  Dutch armed forces in full garb & weaponry standing on alert.  Disturbing.  Young Italian on the shuttle to Aberdeen.  Beautiful speech. I said so & he immediately shut up!  Customs thankfully uneventful, & cases all intact.   Clear weather & stunning views of the sea, the coastline, Aberdeen & surrounds as plane arrived.  Catching proper bus to Dyce was easy, altho it did take the long way 'round thru Tullos, but who cares....I'm BACK!  Jokes with the driver, catching up on local news & info.  Long wait for the train at Dyce.  Och ay, the wind off the sea.  Heard a bit of life & times of newly married guy fae Inverness, returning home from work on African island.  Seatmate on train pregnant masseuse going to Elgin for the weekend.  Woman from down near Feschie Bridge into archeology & other things I didn't want to inquire about.  Came from Shetland. Got scolded for mucking about with train ticket, (less changes the way I went), & conductor making good-natured comments about travelling nutters....a real tea from the heavily-laden trolley enroute! 

Changing at Inverness, waited in line with lovely elderly Englishwoman, asking if I was classical violinist in travelling theatre group - wishful thinking!  Lives on Skye.  Fascinating face.  Such enthusiasm for life and music & culture.  Long black wool coat, glinting white hair, thick specs....backbone of steel....inspiring....  Gorgeous ride to Pitlochry, altho staying awake requires concentration.  Pitlochry appears a lovely little burgh at first glance - finding the B&B is easy, but trailing 2 big cases on cobbled streets is a bit of a challenge - can't stick the rattling!

28th - Aye, it's really true....am waking up back in Scotland!!  A guest in a B&B rather than working in one....brilliant.  Full cooked breakfast & then some, in lovely, decorated dining room of old hoos. Runny egg, sausage, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, oatcakes!  Ought to last most of the day!!  Met photographer L....chat & arrangements for the day:  walk in village, shop for supplies at the Co-Op - blustery autumn weather.  Guest at the B&B has been returning here for 35 years - is nowon his 3rd proprietor.  Buttonboss Lodge owned by Colin & Marlene MacKay....the best of hosts.  Colin's a retired golf pro, from Portmahommach (sp?), Marlene's Dutch.  Possibly a mum of one does housekeeping, a couple of 'local' foreign girls help out.  Lovely people, all.  Very clean.  Discussion over scarcity of lemons.  The yin-yang of cup half-empty, but positive about it.  Or the other way 'round?

Tummel Brig towards Pitlochry
I ride w/L to local sights - Faskally Wood (weird light show & music in evenings)..we did it in daytime, & lovely wood it is, despite the electronics setup for the techno show.  Queen's View is a stunner - especially on this clear autumn day.  Busy with visitors - white roofs of caravans mar the lovely view a wee bit, inspiring discussion with fellow onlookers! Hilarious chat with F&K, gardener & teacher fae Paisley - banter continues in the tearoom - fruitcake slice & cappu made w/instant coffee - now REALLY?!  Bilgewater in a cup.  On up an unmarked track in general direction of Killicrankie - Mexican standoff in Perthshire hills:  vehicles approaching both front AND back on narrow farm track.  Lots of grins & a bit of maneuvering, & we're out of that scrape!
near Killicrankie

On to Killicrankie, famous for a Brit soldier's having lept the 18' span of river to escape pursuing Jacobites.  Wee active mousie collecting goodies in autumn leaves at carpark - Scottish wildlife!  Lovely views of river & rail bridge.  Colours of the hill foliage-it's perfectly clear where older tartans and weavings took their inspiration from.  Back to Pitlochry & explore a bit thru the toon - more blether with Queen's View people - it's Samhain (Halloween) weekend, & the town's really gone all out - street musicians, a 5' miming mouse, clowns - quite the production. Late evening chat w/fellow guests....

29th - Monstrous breakfast again - stiff eggs today (yes!), 3 pcs bacon, tomato, muesli.  Full house, lots of interesting chat.  Off to Dunkeld by bus, not a straight shot....change & wait at Ballaluig, famous for being the best lorry stop in UK (meaning best diner food).  Interesting chat w/lovely dried-apple-faced woman w/brown hat made in Shetland (design of knitting reminiscent of celtic knotwork). Hungarian, fascinating history - da was in Brit embassy. 
Queen's View
Walked about Dunkeld - trees are lovely - visitors centre - discover festival tickets back in Pitlochry.- staff from NZ very helpful.  Directions to Arts Centre on foot, & Birnam oak - gorgeous walk along Tay, desipite rain - enormous oaks & sycamores - the oak immortalized in Macbeth - convoluted, incredible branches, the size...& textures....halloweeny, for sure!  Birnam Arts Centre for good coffee & fruit salad, quite a busy place. Lovely facility - Willie Nelson on sound system - country/bluegrass pretty popular....  Retrieve ticket from Birnam CD's courteous proprietor, who later turns out to be Martin Hadden, bassist of Silly Wizard.  Return walk heavy rain. Poured in Dunkeld.  Wee castle-like edifice in car park to draw whilst sheltering... back to Pitlochry & lovely walk to theatre, pick up bulk of tickets from gracefully patient Vaire...the pfaffing aboot is now completed!  Amazing to feel energetic & no jet lag....near tears today, thinking on privilege of once again being here....seeing a heron is deemed good luck in our family - a large prehistoric-looking specimen balances atop the burnside fence passed en route to the Theatre....fearless.....clearly it's home territory.  Now I'm looking forward to the festival even more!
the Birnam Oak
30th - Twa burly pipers from a Dublin pipe band provided a bit of extra ambiance for those of us who really didn't need sleep....aarrgghh.  I don't begrudge their enthusiasm - a competition's on at Blair Atholl -this weekend - must've been pretty cool.  Tough to return to sleep what with the time change, tho.  Am finding it quite entertaining attempting to adjust to new phone, time difference & daylight savings all at once.  Have yet to find adjustment for time difference - all readings involve subtracting 9 hrs.... I think...!  Breakfast a full house again.  Couple w/B&B in East Linton left details.  A 2nd trip to the Cooperative for vittles, & canned food contributions for concerts.  Checker required a second take - covered with soot & fake blood on head, face, & white lab coat....hilarious.....local contest for shops in Halloween decor brought out some characters!

   Barber shop all decked out as Sweeney Todd!

My 1st day of festival - opening concert last nite had been sold out weeks ago, so missed that.  Today, a workshop in performance with entertaining entertainer Ewan Sutherland....only 2 of us attended, & a couple locals dropped in...lots of good info & humour...an experience in itself!  Talk by local character Lawrence Oliphant & associates on weaponry & dress in Scotland in earlier times, including how to fold & put on a full kilt for both men & women... interesting concept, lying down to get dressed!

31st - Open mike @ Theatre...handbell ringers fae Dunkeld....tone of the bells was beautiful...from the states - less expensive than british-made.  Amazing unison performance, ethereal sounds.  Full audience.  Bodhran workshop w/Mark Maguire of Deaf Shepherd - the intensity & sincerity of his passion for the instrument & sharing with us....kept wanting to tell us more...we practiced on serving trays w/sticks & brushes - lots of us.  Had the rhythm going ok, but felt like I was trying to keep time with a snake!  Non-stop open mike all afternoon - a great experience!  Evening concert:  Crooked Still - pretty Alison Kraus-y but very good.  Banjo gumbi.  Guy next to me didn't particularly care for the singing-along with Dougie - plugged his ear on my side...me or the singer behind us that he didn't like?!  Wee samples of Dougie's whiskey on offer - nice touch.  A good deal of old material tonite - Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Dillon - great stuff, w/full complement of backup.  A REAL treat.

1 Nov - All Saints Day

Could the breakfasts get any better?? Colin may be at home on a golf course, but aye, he knows his stuff in the kitchen too! Wonder what happens if a near-veggie eats bacon & eggs 12 days running?! (hopefully nothing) Big bus full of Dougie nuts loaded at Theatre for a tuneful tour of Perthshire...Ewan & Dougie play a wee tune to start off...rather dreich day, but interesting chat - my seatmate is Ian fae Birmingham, singer/guitarist. We stop at Laurence Oliphant's holdings, which include a shut-up castle on the grounds and several beautiful heavy horses on the hillside above, probably Clydes. The grounds of the steading is immaculate & someone is preparing to ride on a tall, stately black with a long tail. Oh, to break off from the group & explore! Lawrence's ancestor Lady Nairn wrote loads of music & tunes - had to disguise herself to her publisher as work wasn't accepted from females....Boden of Boden, maybe?...Charley is Me Darlin', Wha'd Be King But Charley...very common Jacobite tunes...many are credited to other authors - the usual. Quite a dramatic presentation & presence at the Theatre on the weekend, which continues here - speaking on the bus, answering questions, sharing anecdotes - my thanks for the sharing in his efforts to preserve Scottish culture was me with "We don't reenact the Scottish way of life - we live it." Straight from himself. Earlier on, his children took issue with his choice of dress & hairstyle, & wouldn't be seen with him in public.....ha!

The pastoral beauty of this rich, agri-focused area....great fields of carrots, blackberries, a variety of crops. Carrots are held in the ground, covered thickly to prevent freezing, & pulled all winter at Tesco's requirements. Ancient beech hedge going down to the river. Approaching town of Blairgowrie, built along River Ericht - now the big buildings where all the people go of a Sunday are St. Tesco's, St. Home Base....Ewan's perceptive banter is brilliant! Lunch stop is at a park near the river - rather chill & windy, making the hot tea & delicious sandwiches (venison & red jelly on a beautiful bun for me - low fat, no less!) even more appealing! There were salmon sandwiches also, odd crisps, a lovely tart apple, & a big dense sinker of a sweet made with pineapple....enough for a couple meals!!

Return trip thru the Sma' Glen....quite barren & wild area, steep hillsides....saw not 1 but 5 kites, most likely parents & young....amazing. Talk about the clearances....SAD SAD SAD. Unthinkable persecution. Several big isolated hotels now available for purchase....on down towards Aberfeldy on interesting, windy road thru farmland....Aberdeen singer sharing hilarious tune about bus driving....wild driving on wild roads in the dark & wet....meeting big white schoolbuses on curves...fellow passengers being concerned about safety...driver must have nerves of steel...conversely, maybe all nerves have been removed....on into Theatre after safe return to listen to Chloe Hall Trio - wonderful, upbeat stuff w/great takes on life. Aussies. Tall, skinny.

Ontae another bus to Blair Atholl for Fred Morrison Trio evening concert....have visited the castle previously to view antiques exhibition....decidedly more dramatic at nite - inside & out. The performance was in great hall - incredibly spooky atmosphere with all the wall decor.....armour linings & helmets & scads of deer skulls, antlers still intact, making patterns & shadows in the light...very SUPERnatural (pun).... The music is outstanding...pipes, guitar, bodhran....ethereal at times.....the effect of the surroundings & music gets into the very soul. Morrison is from S. Uist....hilarious, good-natured character, soft speech & dry sense of humour. Wandered a bit at intermission - huge slabs of larch on tearoom walls, also ancient needlework....in main hall, Niel Gow & a couple dukes of Atholl overseeing things on their luminous canvases, and a huge Landseer, 'Death of a Stag,' I think - need to look up info on it. Fantastic day it's been!

2 Nov

Another tasty brekky (breakfast) - I'm going to miss this. And a beautiful clear, crisp morning. Off to catch bus to Dunkeld, & stumble upon couple fae New Hamp. Lovely characters! Bus driver recognizes me by now & inquires re: adventures. Had a bit of walk near cathedral, riverside. My sketch of mini-castle is the entrance-way to an estate with walled gardens....later find out it's connected to Blair Atholl. S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G day. Peeked at roofless section of cathedral....HIGH arches - Wolf of Badenoch said buried there...on to the Taybank - formerly Macleans', new ownership, buckets lining floor - could use some TLC on roof & elsewhere.

Master musician Pete Clark is our guide for the Niel Gow walk - generous with information & a passionate speaker about music & conservation....made for a fascinating tour. Walk went across bridge, along the Tay....water ouzels, buzzards....conservation-crazy local made an interesting addition to the company....tallest tree in Britain.....native plants vs. foreign additions.....beautiful forest walk, especially in Autumn. Big falls, large 3-d plaque in Gaelic....viewing of Niel Gow's cottage - Niel Gow's oak....he was retained by the duke for pound5/year. Amazing. Walked to his gigs. Tale about cutting the tree without the duke's permission & talking his way 'round it. Must've been a great laugh at the time. Down to the Birnam Oak - back to the pub, scrummy carrot & tomato soup & bread. The Americans always get fries, cheese & beer...aarrgghh! Loads of Dougie memorabilia, & Pete plays a good bit for us...lovely tunes. Hitch ride back to Pitlochry, wee stop in Scottish Deli before leaving...mmm! Back to B&B for wee toes-up...hike up to Theatre for shuttle bus back to Dunkeld cathedral & tonite's Eamon Coyne/Kris Drever concert along w/Dougie & others - moving performances by all. Cathedral packed....amazing! The acoustics in these structures! Synchronicity daily on this incredible trip: Ann, seated next me, holds ticket # next mine! A couple seated in pew before us overheard us chat, & know my good friends in Auchenblae!! Was brilliant listening to blether around us....Expected to be quite cold, but heaters in alternate rows at our feet made it comfortable....one visitor accidentally melted her anorak's zipper (smell permeated the cathedral) & had to buy a new waterproof souvenir of her trip next day!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Back in the Saddle.....Sort Of......Frogs at Hastings!

    I'll never understand how a person can live most of their life in one place, and find they're drawn, pulled and pushed towards another thousands of miles away......yup, it's reality for me, and has been for years.....I'm sitting in my studio in Coeur d'Alene, going through the motions of a frenetic daily routine, but countless times a day the brain strays to Scottish shores and subjects.....c-r-a-z-y.  The uplifting experience of Perthshire Amber, Dougie and Jenny Maclean's wonderful celebration of Dougie's music and so much more has definitely left it's mark....may I never recover!!!  Working on learning some of Dougie's haunting fiddle tunes will definitely be a part of this winter's regular activity.

    The Toadage! series of bullfrog posters is up on display in the Coeur 'd Alene Hastings coffee shop,  along with a selection of my mum's paintings.  Posters are available for purchase either flat on cardboard or rolled in a tube for $15 each.  An extensive selection of cards and mini-giclee's of my Scottish paintings can also be found in the card section next the coffee shop.  My sincere thanks to Simone and Kathryn for giving them a try!



Friday, November 12, 2010

Post Created Nov 12, 2010 2:32:15 PM

It's the final evening of another wonderful visit to Ross-shire's storied Black Isle. Stunning views south and west across Beauly Firth from where I stay. Oh to have enough time to do a couple big canvases of this dramatic area on site one day. For now, am deeply grateful to have landed, however temporarily, in this magical place.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Post Created Nov 9, 2010 1:31:55 PM

It's two days since Perthshire Amber came to a close,and the heed's still in a warm fuzzy fog from all the music, wonderful surroundings and connection with good souls. An experience of deep value to me personally, and I hope to my fellow participants in Butterstone Studios Musical Assault Course!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Highland Games.....and So Much More

Late summer weekends in the open air speaking with others of Scottish/Celtic affinity and interest..... listening to pipe tunes and the clack of dancing shoes....playing a few tunes myself during quiet moments in my booth....and exposure first hand to brilliant Celtic bands such as Wicked Tinkers.....such a gift!!   It's a given I'd prefer to be in Scotland proper, but the ever-constricting rope of family responsibility that keeps me US-side loosed just enough to allow participation in Highland Games in Spokane, WA, Hamilton, MT and Kelso, WA.  Uplifting experiences, all!

Having turned away from the summer art show circuit after 9/ll, it's a bit surprising to find myself once again on the road a with a pickup full of gear and carefully wrapped paintings a decade later!  It was fun then, but it's absolute heaven now....getting to spend extended time discussing the specific things I love best, the landscape and culture of Scotland and the Celtic countries, and encouraging that interest in others.  Not to mention meeting fascinating people from all walks of life and levels of awareness...simply awesome! 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Late Summer Highland Games

Another page has turned on the calendar and my favourite time of year is upon us.  In an ideal world, I'd be spending waking hours exploring (personally) uncharted territory in Scotland.  Such as things are, participating in the Spokane Highland Games, Spokane, WA, and Bitterroot Valley ScottishIrishFestival , Hamilton, MT have been incredibly rewarding, uplifting experiences and excellent excuses to spend time outdoors and a welcome break from routine demands and labours.  I cannot thank the organizers of such events enough for all the time and energy they put in to bring these valuable celebrations of culture together!  Luckily, I will also have a vendor booth at the Kelso Highland Games in Kelso, WA this coming weekend, 11 and 12 Sept., so one more good chance to enjoy one of Scotland's great traditions, the Games, as Autumn advances.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hardback Cafe Opening!

So much activity this month!  I will be at the Coeur d'Alene Hastings Hardback Cafe Saturday, Aug. 21 from 4-7 to chat with passers-by about my current exhibition there.....hope to see some of you CDA locals!  The exhibition runs through 31 August. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Celtic Challenge - the Cross

Simplify....that's what this painter strives towards - simplify the scene before me and distill it to it's most meaningful parts......so heck, let's get rid of one of the most important buildings in Scotland - it's blocking the view!  (I mean no disrespect - I look forward to painting the Abbey and surrounds!)

This is a wee study of the high cross, also known as a Celtic Christian cross, to be found standing outside Iona Abbey.  Interesting to learn that if it was lacking the connecting circle, it would be a Christian cross.  At any rate, it's a good exercise in perspective, texture and dimension, and represents to me the incredible strength of character it took to survive in the beautiful, yet austere lands of our ancestors, whatever their belief systems.

6"x4" oil on gallery wrap canvas (covers all sides - no need for a frame!)

Highland Pastorale

4" x 6" oil on gallery wrap canvas
This is a wee landscape of the lovely fields & firth outside Muir of Ord on the Black Isle....I love the dramatic skies and scudding clouds above the peaceful scenery!  This view looks south across Beauly Firth to the hills west of Inverness.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Out Standing in Their Places

The Standing Stones at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis, are a fascinating and mysterious link to our Celtic past.  These huge rough monoliths could still be approached and touched in '05....I was amused to round one of the larger stones near the visitors' center to discover a camper's pop-up tent erected within  a meter of it!  Add to that an inquisitive ewe nosing about the mushroom-like object and it's contents with intense concentration......! 

This wee painting is of the series of stones set along the ridge of a low rise, a bit of a walk from the main configuration.  I am deeply grateful to the locals who put up with all of us sassenachs who troop through their lands and lives in search of various and sundry goals and experiences.
4"x6" oil on gallery wrap canvas (painting extends to all sides so no need of a frame!)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Necropolis Crosses, Glasgow

11" x 19.75" oil on masonite   $175 unframed, $325 framed
The Necropolis is an extraordinary cemetery in the heart of Glasgow.  I can't resist adding this description by John Strang, Chamberlain at the Merchants' House, written in 1831, titled “Necropolis Glasguensis", or “Thoughts on Death and Moral Stimulus:"

"The Fir Park appears admirably adapted for a Pere la Chaise, which would harmonise beautifully with the adjacent scenery, and constitute a solemn and appropriate appendage to the venerable structure (the Cathedral) in front of which, while it will afford a much wanted accommodation to the higher classes, would at the same time convert an unproductive property into a general and lucrative source of profit, to a charitable institution" it was to be "respectful to the dead, safe and sanitary to the living, dedicated to the Genius of Memory and to extend religious and moral feeling".

It seems the powers that be have accomplished all that, and more.  It's a fascinating excursion into art, history, geography, geneology, and beyond.....well worth a visit!  On my first exploration with my then 18-year old son Sawyer, two local characters strolling back down from the upper reaches stopped and gave us detailed instructions to find the grave of an important personage of Glasgow, William Miller, whom we MUST visit:  the author of the Scottish nursery rhyme "Wee Willie Winkie!!" ....such is a normal day in Scotland for me....!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I was fortunate this weekend to hear an uplifting talk by Coeur d'Alene's Unity minister Deirdre, sharing insights gleaned from a retreat at Iona, a wee isle off of Mull, famous for being the site of St. Columba's establishment of Christianity in Scotland.  Her infectious enthusiasm and lovely photos had my eyes watering as images of my own visits paraded through my mind's eye.  Not a place to be easily forgotten.   I hope to return and wander at length, at a slower pace than the scheduled tour allows....maybe get in a few sketches!  On a visit in '05, I landed not at the ferry landing, but at the pristine white beach a bit south...in the wee dinghy of the sailboat "Dutch Courage," with a group of friends on a sailing holiday.  A singular experience in itself, arrival on an anniversary of Scottish Labour Party Leader John Smith's passing made it even more so.  Trenchcoats on legs were everywhere.....we were eyed suspiciously and our group carefully watched during our entire stay....a number of political figures one normally sees on BBC News were there to pay their respects, and it was quite an experience to stand in the same line for tea and cakes in the local tearoom!

This is a partial view of the remnant stone walls of the Nunnery on Iona, their austere and often violent past softened by the flourishing multicoloured plantings. Literally dripping with history, this tiny Hebridean island has been the scene for many important events in Scottish and Celtic culture, and has been for centuries the final resting place of many clan chieftains and Scottish dignitaries.
oil on masonite, 9 7/8" x 5 7/8" $165 unframed, $285 framed

Monday, May 31, 2010


The first half of the year is past, and the majority of my art-focused time has been spent at the COMPUTER, rather than the easel. Time for a re-think, re-focus, and re-MOVAL of fingers from the keyboard! Four half-finished paintings are now two, and the first completed work is a lone gull contemplating harbour life.....and possibly me simultaneously....I know how obnoxious gulls can be...aggressive, noisy, smelly, etc., but still a living thing full of grace and abilities, and definitely occupying a necessary niche in the world.
"The Observer," 16"x12" oil on canvas/masonite panel, $288 unframed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Accessing Scottish Blogs

Ran across a fanTASTIC site for Scotophiles this week.....Scottish Roundup.......a site dedicated to "the best of Scottish blogging each week".......it's all there in rather random order - politics, culture, travel, philosophy, pub wisdom.....you name it - dead brilliant!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Glasgow Real

The infamous Glasgow Reel, or Tam Lin's as it's often called (should be called Fiddler's Paralyzed Bow Arm from my perspective!), is stuck in my heed after last nite's crackin' session at O'Shay's with members of CDA's Deep Roots and Turning Tide....and the playing of a member of the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers put me right back in Scotland...mentally, at least!  Havn't yet taken the time to sit in on any sessions in Glasgow - there's just so much to DO in this busy city!!   Multiple stays in the West End have been in an entertaining multi-storey hostel up a hill just off Great Western Road.  In the heart of student quarters, it's not always been the quietest of lodgings, but clean and pleasant.  A simple overnite stay at a hostel is seldom dull.....even the best-run and most secure ones:  the first time at this particular one (and my son's first hostelling experience) we shared a room with two young affluent American women whom we learned considered 'lifting' jewellry for later return and cash back a lark.  I recall spending an extended period of time discussing the pros and cons of foreign jails and the concept of 'consequences,' both immediate and extended, with the young lasses, with at least temporary constructive results.....all in a day's experience in the world of travel, never mind doing my bit to attempt to maintain positive Scottish-American relations!

Here is a watercolour I did reflecting the view from the hostel room's window.....the warm tones of the sandstone building blocks, some relatively clean, some rimed with soot....all appealing to me, and an interesting puzzle of lines, shapes and shadows to assemble as I worked it up!  The original is currently available, as well as a giclee, image approx. 14"x18," along with mini-giclees and blank cards.  Any of these can be ordered by clicking here.     

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yet Another Book Title.....

If I had the time, I'd sit down and write a book - not on the things that fascinate, or even amuse myself and others about Scotland....it would be titled "101 Reasons Why NOT to Attempt Living with Your Elderly Parents."  And there would be a definite lack of humour in it.  That said, I return to things more rewarding.....

.....Like choosing and preparing a baker's dozen Scottish photos from the Painting Scotland archives for hanging in daughter Jessica and partner Jon's pizza shop, Young Guns Pizza of Libby, Montana..... Scottish decor and pizza....hmmm....shouldn't take too much of a stretch of the imagination when you stop and think of what an incredible conglomerate of foreign cultures one finds in at least the big 3 seaport cities!   

.....Like completing the framing of  'Gateway to the Cuillins' and 'Memento Mori' today....

.....Like visioneering the next chunk of time spent in Scotland (I think an absolute minimum of four months....a good deal of it spent doing a "sketching crawl" if you will, of some of the hot (and not so hot!) wee spots on the west coast....).   Sketching being a relative term here.  The perennially moist atmosphere of Scotland leads one to leave the pencils and paper in a drawer, and utilize oils and canvas...at least the oils are less likely to run, and the canvas can be air-dried and responds better to flattening beneath heavy weights far better than does even quality sketch paper!  I do not yet know what the long-term effects of seabird guano are to an oil sketch, tho....have had two instances so far of trying to extricate samples of just such mixed media additions to my fresh, wet, earnest creative efforts....I'm sure the remainder that had to be incorporated into the paintings gave them extra preservation qualities yet to be explored by museum archivists.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Wholesale Catalogue Now Online

Finally.....the 2010  Fine Art Reproductions Catalogue is available for online use.  If you have a resale license and would like to check it out, please contact me for the password.  This is a new thing for me, and there is always room for improvement, so I welcome your comments!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cathedral Square Revisited

An unexpected treat came my way yesterday in the form of an entertaining slide show & energizing cuppa & conversation at Bella Rose, my favourite local caffeine source......friends Dorothy & Geoff, recently returned from a brisk winter's visit to Glasgow kindly shared pictures of the adventure.  An odd trance-like state set in for the day, with image after image of my own collection of purely Glaswegian experiences & perceptions arising thru the mists (aye, maybe it was the yoga class directly after!).  At any rate, a couple of Geoff's excellent shots of St. Mungo's, or Glasgow Cathedral reminded me of a brilliant afternoon spent exploring the massive edifice & surrounds (for a 360 degree view of the interior, click St. Mungo's....for history & info, click Glasgow Cathedral).  The atmosphere in these huge 'chambers of spirit' does my head in.   The sheer drama they create, both inside & out, by their existence upon the earth, rising hundreds of feet in the air & having been conceived, designed & constructed with such simple tools & equipment.....& the human factor of effort, labour, & struggle.....I am in eternal awe.  The painting you see here is a wee record of my visit - one of the small stained glass windows from the outside....being chosen as subject in contrast to everything else being so overwhelmingly BIG!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Flying -Sailing - Moving in the Mind

"  8 Sept '09  Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
Just emerged from viewing ""  The Art of Flying,"   mid-15th century bird paintings at the airport's mini-Rijksmuseum.  Inspirational enough to penetrate the fog of jet lag & sleep deprivation.  Beautiful large canvases of fowl of all kinds, some domestic, some wild, including a big work sporting colourful members of the parrot family from every continent amicably sharing the viewer's space........Pastries, heavy luggage, fish & cheese delicacies, the latest interesting paperbacks, & the Holland bulbs…..love this place! Jeremy Clarkson & Bill Bryson’s latest books…..”

…..found an unfinished scribble this morning, bringing with it a flood of cheering images and impressions from Amsterdam airport….good thoughts on a January morning!   Unseasonally balmy for January in Idaho, it is….sharp, freezing breaths give way to merely mild, cool air during  a fast walk, bringing calm sailing to mind.  

A recently completed commission for Inverness yacht
‘Moonfleet’s’owner  was painted to celebrate not only the grace and beauty of the big craft, but her dramatic Highland backdrop of Scotland’s famous Loch Ness and the ruin of Urqhart Castle on Strone Point. About two miles distant from Drumnadrochit, the castle has been standing in some form since at least the early 1200’s, and has seen an active and often bloody history.  I can just imagine floating craft coming upon the castle from this same angle, centuries ago! 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Growing A Web Presence

Oy, I'd much rather be in front of the easel, paints mixed and ready for applying to the nearest surface,  than in front of the laptop, papers spread in disarray, searching my brain for words.  Nae bother - it's all creativity, in one form or another, so an end to the wingeing (temporarily!!). 

Joanie Gagnon San Chirico, a dynamic, highly productive mixed-media east coast artist has developed a great site which will be going public tomorrow:  ProfessionalFineArtNetwork.com .   Organized to help facilitate connections between fine art professionals and those who utilize their services (mainly in the public art sector) it's a good-looking, well-organized site which I'm proud to have representing my work. 

Scottish notes of interest:
The beautiful watercolours of Joseph Turner have come to light in their annual unveiling at the Royal Scottish Academy Building in Edinburgh.  Gifted to the National Galleries by their collector, Henry Vaughan, it was stipulated in his bequest that these delicate watercolours should only be shown in January when natural daylight is at its weakest, so they will not fade. This limited exposure has resulted in the works retaining their natural brilliance and luminous colours.  Aye, reason enough for a visit to Edinburgh, midwinter or no!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Homage....to Fromage!

Cheese.....one of the essential basic food groups, surely!  The heady smells and interesting stacks of edible geometric shapes in various colours make the wee cheese shop on Edinburgh's Victoria Street one of my favourite places to stop, just sniffing and gazing in fascination at the mouthwatering varieties of curdled milk!   This painting is in homage to one of life's best treats - a flavourful slice of cheese!
Oil on gallery wrap canvas  12"x12"   $400

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Aye, tomorrow begins Celtic Connections in Glasgow, and I'm here in Idaho!! Must be poor timing on my part.....a short weekend's attendance in '06 has made one of my many goals to spend at the very least a week at this world-class folk music festival, held in a variety of venues around the city over a period of 3 weeks.  May it be an outstanding success, and rewarding experience for all involved!   Since I'm not on the road at present, what better way to honor the spirit of the festival than to put some renewed energy into getting the best out of that lovely old fiddle of mine?  Normally playing on my own, it was a great surprise a couple weeks ago to show up at a jam in Garwood and immediately be instructed to sit down & play, as fellow celtic musician Carlos Alden (Celtic Nots) was among the group of high-caliber pickers and grinners:  Elwin & Shirley Schutt, Marcus Smith, Darrell Hawkins, Mike & Martha Stone, Geoff & Nancy, Dian Newell & John Sylte (Dead Fiddlers Society).  The endorphins flowing from being around good musicians and music must be on par or exceed those one gets from running!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dark Nights & Glowing Sunsets

Winters in the northern hemisphere....to some, unbearably long & boring. To me, an excellent opportunity to dig into favourite things during the long hours of darkness: learning new tunes & polishing up old ones...attempting to make at least a tiny dent in household & studio tasks, watching a little telly, laying out new paintings....the list seems endless. But opportunities turn into burdens when unbroken by a bit of fun, so I'm thankful for musician friends who drag me out of the studio occasionally for sessions. Plain old enthusiasm for life & living always returns after participating in a good lively evening of music & craic.

Back in the studio, the first landscape for 2010 is a sunset over the Beauly Firth & surrounds. Atmospheric conditions make Highland sunsets real stunners. Attempting to imitate the beauty and depth of colour and distance was a humbling experience, but true to form I HAD to give this wintry scene a shot! You are looking across a frozen tilled grain field of Redcastle Estate on the southern shore of the Black Isle. I suppose living in regions thick with conifer forests most of my life helps me appreciate the hardwood trees of the UK....their interesting sillhouettes, most stark in winter, and I love the long rows of them, planted who-knows-how-long-ago along thoroughfares and property lines, now grown to huge, stately landmarks, many with distinct histories of their own.
Oil on canvas, 24" x 36" $600 framed

Friday, January 1, 2010


The New Year has come & I'd be fibbing if I said I was prepared....my normal mad 'cleanup & clearout" to start the new year right just didn't take place....PRIORITIES!!! Who wants to clean when there's family & friends, music to play, paintings to create, & an overwhelming amount of details to face off in the printing/marketing operation of this painter's studio?! Maybe I'll do a 15-minute pickup today, just to see if I can get a glimpse of the actual worktable surface.....!

New off the easel: Memento Mori Oil on Canvas 20"x13"
A favourite image I've aimed to paint for several years, this is my interpretation of a headstone in an Edinburgh churchyard. A fine art form I know little of is stonecarving. Such expressive manipulation of such a cold, hard, difficult medium. Burial works are examples I find particularly striking, communicating cultural values & info to those willing to observe. This headstone is an excellent example of the practice of indicating the occupation of the deceased with tools of their trade. Stone itself can represent so many things...solidity, security, harshness, & relative permanence. Primarily singular in colour on it's own, a stoncarving's years of exposure add the beautiful touches of a variety of hues through weathering and plant life, bringing character & personality to the work. An educational chat with a retired stonemason in Auchenblae has raised my appreciation for the stamina & dedication of those who take up this demanding trade.
Framed $950